Train travel is a great way to get around on vacation, especially if you want to slowly immerse yourself into a destination. Sure, flights are often quicker if you’re traveling to multiple cities, but the train offers better views and allows you to forgo the hassle of airports and security lines. That’s exactly why on a recent trip to scenic Scandinavia, we opted to take the slow route — and have returned with tips to make the most of your train experience in the region.
1. Figure out how many days and stops you need beforehand.
A Eurail Scandinavia pass can be more efficient if you plan to visit multiple cities, but you need to calculate ahead to make sure you’re getting a deal. If you’re taking a longer journey, it’s a good idea to allow time for impromptu stops. Also good to know: some journeys — usually the ones that aren’t express or overnight — let you hop on and off the train whenever you like, while others require reservations. The good news is that the reservation will still be less expensive than what it would cost without the pass.
2. Travel during the day.
Traveling at night might seem like a good way to save on hotels, but you’ll miss the views. The route between Oslo and Bergen, we discovered, is particularly breathtaking. The overnight trains are more expensive, too, so the savings over a hotel can be minimal.
3. Stock up on food in Sweden.
Sweden has the best exchange rate to the U.S. dollar in the region, and the cheapest prices in general, so if you’re making stops there, try to squeeze in a trip to a grocery store and buy snacks and water for the rest of your travels. Unsurprisingly, prices for food and drinks sold on the trains are significantly marked up.
4. Avoid the ticket office in Copenhagen.
Many American travelers fly into Copenhagen and begin their trips there, but the ticket office at the Copenhagen Central Station is always hectic. Travelers must take a number according to whether they’re traveling locally or internationally, resulting in up to an hour’s wait time. Again, it pays to plan ahead and have all your reservations and questions sorted before arriving.
5. Stop by the tourist office whenever you get off a train.
Every major city in Scandinavia has a tourist office conveniently located near the train station. Don’t write them off. It’s always useful to have a free map on hand, and the locals working there might have suggestions for things you haven’t considered. If you’re planning to hit up a ton of sites, it’s also worth looking into tourist cards that offer free museum entry, public transit, and more.